Found- RARE 1662 Massachusetts Oak Tree Twopence! – Bill Ladd

*Exclusive story on detectorstuff.com

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Lately, just finding time for the hobby has been very hard for me. Between starting a family and moving, detecting for me has been in form of an hour here, an hour there. When I was single, just a couple years back, I was hunting all day Sat, all day Sunday, and even a couple nights after work! Times sure have changed, and it’s quite hard when you have the “bug” and want to get out so bad…..even to coinshoot some clad.

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But, for some reason it had been a pretty successful hunting season so far, and 2007 had been quality over quantity for some reason. I had opened the season with a previously “unlisted” button find at a cellar hole that I was quickly offered $300.00 for. Then, sneaking away for an hour after work hoping to find a musketball or two, I dug my first-ever gold coin!This was an 1876 British Victoria Half Sovereign. I was happy with that, and my complete attention was to arranging a new house and a baby girl on the way.

But, one sunny day recently, I sat at work looking out the window really just itching to swing my new Fisher F75. I just got it back from Texas with the updated “Jewlery Mode”, and really wanted to try it. It was supposedly “hot” on buttons and I had several fields on the way home where flat buttons had turned up in the past. As I drove, my hopes were let down. I forgot it was June and most all the farmers had crops planted. Finally I spotted one farm permission that had fields that were not yet plowed and were over grown with weeds still. I jumped out and headed for the field that I had dug buttons, and the 1821 Bust Dime that appeared in the ID-Edge advertising. But, my hopes were dulled when I discovered the weeds were so thick I couldn’t even swing a coil! I was able to get the coil down in one corner, and pounding this little bare patch produced just a drop of lead, a hook part, and a broken piece of pewter spoon.

I thought of leaving, but while walking out remembered another tiny field behind a barn. We disliked this field as every time we tried it we came up empty and it had sparse signals. The most it has ever produced was a lone Indian head as I recall. But, seeing it didn’t have as many weeds, I figured what the heck? It’s either try here or head home, and I had not swing in weeks. So, I cranked up the F75 “hot” as possible, and headed toward a really bare section. While walking, a nice signal produced what appeared to be the brass lock plate or key hole cover from a big pad lock. Flipping it over, I saw it was decorated with leaves & such and it was actually a Colonial book clasp (like the hinge things often found on a diary or bible). Cool. Now I figured I not only had an older area, but also I was not going home empty handed at least. In fact, it would look good in one of my colonial display cases.

Site Relics

Now really overlapping my sweeps and listening closely, I got a loud high tone that I thought was a beer can. But, from about 8” up came a bent piece of copper or brass. Looking close I saw it was the bent up bowl of a Colonial latten spoon. These are large flat spoons and many have unique marks and are from the 1600’s! Very cool. Now I knew I had a hot little area with some age. Just two sweeps further, up came a 1700’s pewter button from a depth of 8”. This was the type with the “hump” where the shank once was and common in Revolutionary times.

Spinning around to head back to the direction I came & begin to run a pattern, another weak signal sounded like the last button. I checked the depth and pinpointed it at 6”. I dug a large plug and felt around in the dug dirt after swinging over to see it was out of the hole. Feeling something round and flat it appeared to be just like I thought…another flat button. Yet, when I picked it up it felt super thin like no button I ever held. It was the size of a Spanish ½ Reales and looked dark grey, so maybe that’s it? But it even felt thinner than those. Gently brushing more dirt off, I saw what looked like a nice bold back-mark around a ring of dots. But, again, boy that seems very thin for a coin or button. Wait, that’s not a shank in the middle….it’s a TREE! Now I knew what I had. I recognized that oak tree right away after my friend John dug a hammered silver Massachusetts Oak Tree TwoPence a couple years ago. I noticed the “II” on the other side, and this looked almost exact, and also had apparent nice details! The date side of 1662 was more worn than the “tree” was, but I wasn’t about to complain! As a New England treasure hunter, a “readable” Massachusetts “tree coin” has been on my list of detecting goals since I was a boy. Many New England detectorists have found them, and it’s a lot like becoming a part of the “gold coin club”. I have dug a blank silver disc that matches a tree coin planchet that’s so worn away on both sides I can’t even see a thing even with a loop. So, I never even talked about it or considered myself part of the “club”.

The oak tree TwoPence types are very desirable as these are the only Mass. hammered silvers dated 1662, and considered rarer than many 1652 varieties. The date of 1652 gave these coins the look of having been struck during the English Civil War with Cromwell in power. They were produced from handmade dies, which explains their crude appearance & individuality. The wide range of die varieties is easy to see and all are cataloged with a “Noe” number. Mine appears to be either a NOE 32 or NOE 33 (large dates). These were the last of the TwoPences to be struck as the first ones had small 2’s. COINFACTS.com lists only “3-4 known”, but I’m sure there are a few more unreported in private collections. Still it’s a rare and valuable coin.

So, in very, very limited time, and digging far fewer holes, I have been lucky enough to have attained two “goal coins” with my first-ever gold coin, and now my first “readable” Mass. “Tree coin”. My hunting buddies putting in far more hours are probably cursing meJ There’s still 6 months left in 2007 to dig my first George Washington Inaugural button next! (another long-time goal).

As some people know, like with my fascination with the #13, I’m superstitious and both times I hit these “goals”, I was alone sneaking in an hour after work. Boy, I’m thinking digging for entire weekends are out for the rest of the year! J

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Thanks for reading,
Bill

  • March 4, 2009

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